Jason Barton

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Archive for the ‘Shale’ tag

Shale’s a curse and blessing for natural gas

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Here’s another installment in the ongoing discussion about the potential for oil and gas from shale. It is interesting and important to put this discussion, about an uncertain technology with great negative and positive potential, in the context of the current spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Given time to work, technologies for shale and deep sea drilling both hold tremendous promise. Rushing them to market before they are ready and reliable poses equally tremendous risks.

By Myra P. Saefong, MarketWatch

TOKYO (MarketWatch) — A supply surplus has made natural gas a cheap source of energy, and its growing production from so-called “unconventional” sources such as shale may be destined to keep it that way.

“Natural gas is at a historically cheap price, assuming we’re just looking at the last ten years, but one major issue not affecting other energy markets is driving the price lower and lower,” said Neal Ryan, managing partner at Ryan Oil & Gas Partners LLC.

Driven by the nation’s growing need for energy and high natural-gas prices in recent years, interest in gas derived from shale, a geologic formation, has increased despite the high costs involved with developing the sources.

“Shale gas provides the largest source of growth in U.S. natural gas supply,” according to the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2010 report.

U.S. shale gas production was at 2.02 trillion cubic feet in 2008, up from 1.18 trillion cubic feet in 2007, government data show.

[…]

“Now many of those companies are being forced to continue drilling plans formulated for a much higher market price in order to protect those lease investments,” he said.

That’s “a dangerous spot to be in because the domestic market doesn’t need this gas right now, but companies are stuck having to protect their capital investment,” he said.

[…]

Total U.S. natural gas consumption by end use fell to 22.8 trillion cubic feet in 2009 from 23.2 trillion cubic feet in 2008, according to the EIA.

[…]

Even so, right now there are “a large number of wells that are being drilled to hold leases,” said James Williams, an economist at WTRG Economics, explaining that if a well is not drilled on a new lease within 3-5 years, then control of the mineral rights reverts to the owner and the lease is void.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

May 28th, 2010 at 4:05 pm